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US signs deal to help Panama remove migrants who may be heading north: Officials said the U.S. would be giving assistance and expertise on how to conduct removals

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US signs deal to help Panama remove migrants who may be heading north: Officials said the U.S. would be giving assistance and expertise on how to conduct removals

 

The United States is going to pay for flights and offer other help to Panama to remove migrants under an agreement signed Monday, as the Central American country’s new president has vowed to shut down the treacherous Darien Gap used by people traveling north to the United States.

 

 US signs deal to help Panama remove migrants who may be heading north: Officials said the U.S. would be giving assistance and expertise on how to conduct removals

The memorandum of understanding was signed during an official visit headed by Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to Panama for the inauguration Monday of José Raúl Mulino, the country’s new president.

The deal is “designed to jointly reduce the number of migrants being cruelly smuggled through the Darien, usually en route to the United States,” National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said in a statement Monday. “Specifically, the United States will support Panama’s efforts to begin the swift, safe and humane repatriation of migrants who do not have a legal basis to remain in Panama.”

The efforts to send some migrants back to their homelands “will help deter irregular migration in the region and at our southern border, and halt the enrichment of malign smuggling networks that prey on vulnerable migrants,” she said.

Under the terms of the agreement, U.S. Homeland Security teams on the ground in Panama would help the government there train personnel and build up its own expertise and ability to determine which migrants, under Panama’s immigration laws, could be removed from the country, according to two senior administration officials. They spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity to give details of the agreement that had not yet been made public.

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